“Yes, they are pretty tough,” said Anderson. “Wish we could have a shower.”
“So do I. Say, this cigar is a dandy.”
“I thought you’d like it. Of course it isn’t a cigar that everybody would like. It requires some taste, perhaps a cultivated taste.”
“Yes, that’s so,” replied the boy, with a pleased air. “I guess it does. I shouldn’t say every man would appreciate this.”
“Have another,” said Anderson, and he pressed a couple into the hot young hand, which was greedily reached out for a little solace for its owner’s wounded heart and self-love.
“Thanks. I suppose I have quite a good taste for a good cigar. I don’t believe it would be very easy to palm off a cheap grade on me. Good-night, Mr. Anderson.”
“Good-night,” said Anderson, and was conscious of pity and amusement as the boy went away and his footsteps died out of hearing. As for himself, he was in much the same case as before, only the time had evidently arrived for him to dismiss his dreams and the lady of them. He did not think so hardly of her for being willing to marry the older man as the disappointed young man did. He considered himself as comparatively old, and he had a feeling of sympathy for the other old fellow who doubtless loved her. He was prepared to think that she had done a wiser thing than to engage herself to young Eastman, especially if the man was rich enough to take care of her. The position would be good, too. He thought generously of that consideration, although it touched him in his tenderest spot of vanity. “She will do well to marry an ex-army officer,” he thought. “She will have the entree to any society.” Presently he arose and went up-stairs to bed. He passed roughly by the nook where he had so often fancied her sitting, and closed, as it were, the door of his fancy against her with a bang. He set a lamp on a table at the head of his bed and read his political economy until dawn. It was, in fact, too hot for any nervous person to sleep. Now and then his thoughts wandered, the incessant drone of the night insects outside seemed to distract his attention from his book like some persistent clamor of nature recalling him to his leading-strings in which she had held him from the first. But resolutely he turned again to his book. At dawn he fell asleep, and woke an hour later to another steaming day.
“I think we shall have thunder-showers to-day,” Mrs. Anderson remarked, as she poured the coffee at the breakfast-table. Even this old gentlewoman, carefully attired in her dainty white lawn wrapper, had that slightly dissipated, bewildered, and rancorous air that extreme heat is apt to impart to the finest-grained of us. Her fair old face had a glossy flush, her white hair, which usually puffed with a soft wave over her temples, was stringy. She allowed her wrapper to remain open at the neck, exposing her old